Perilla: Direct Sow Vegetable
How to Sow
- Sow in average to fertile well-drained soil in full sun after all danger of frost in spring.
- Broadcast or sow in rows 14-24 inches apart. Sow seeds evenly and barely cover with soil as seeds need light to germinate. Water gently and keep evenly moist.
- Seedlings emerge in about 14 days depending on soil and weather conditions.
- Thin gradually to stand 8-12 inches apart starting when seedlings are about 3 inches high.
How to Grow
- Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating. Avoid disturbing the soil around the plants when weeding.
- Keep plants well-watered during dry periods to promote rapid, uninterrupted growth. Plants need about 1 inch of rain per week during the growing season. Use a rain gauge to check to see if you need to add water. It’s best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated. Perilla is heat tolerant.
- Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.
- Please note that plant size, adaptability and disease tolerance may differ according to your specific growing conditions.
Harvest and Preserving Tips
- You can start harvesting perilla leaves about two months after planting. Continue to harvest as needed throughout the summer.
- To harvest, cut a sprig just above the junction of a pair leaves on the plant.
- Perilla leaves are used in many Asian dishes, particularly fish dishes.
- If you do not use the leaves fresh, you can dry them as you would basil, either by air drying, freezing dry on a cookie sheet and sealed in zip lock bags, or use sea salt between layers of leaves in a container in the refrigerator.
- You can also harvest immature flowers as a garnish for soups, and the seeds may be used for pickling.
Common Disease Problems
Perilla is generally pest and disease free, but occasionally the following may be observed.
Bacterial Wilt: This causes yellow streaking on the foliage. It is soil borne and spread by flea beetles. Burpee Recommends: Rotate crops and control flea beetles.
Damping Off: This is one of the most common problems when starting plants from seed. The seedling emerges and appears healthy; then it suddenly wilts and dies for no obvious reason. Damping off is caused by a fungus that is active when there is abundant moisture and soils and air temperatures are above 68 degrees F. Typically, this indicates that the soil is too wet or contains high amounts of nitrogen fertilizer. Burpee Recommends: Keep seedlings moist but do not overwater; avoid over-fertilizing your seedlings; thin out seedlings to avoid overcrowding; make sure the plants are getting good air circulation; if you plant in containers, thoroughly wash them in soapy water and rinse in a ten per cent bleach solution after use.
Downy Mildew: This fungus causes whitish gray patches on the undersides and eventually both sides of the leaves. Burpee Recommends: Rotate crops with plants in a different family. Avoid overhead watering. Provide adequate air circulation, do not overcrowd plants. Do not work around plants when they are wet.
Rust: A number of fungus diseases that cause rust colored spots on foliage and stalks. Burpee Recommends: Plant resistant varieties. Practice crop rotation. Remove infected plants. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.
Common Pest and Cultural Problems
Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps which feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.
Cutworms: These insects cut off the seedlings at the soil level. Burpee Recommends: Place a paper cup collar (use a coffee cup with the bottom cut out) around the base of the plant. They are usually mostly a problem with young seedlings. You can also control by handpicking and controlling weeds, where they lay their eggs.
Flea Beetles: These small hopping beetles feed on plant foliage and may spread diseases. Burpee Recommends: Rotate crops with plants in a different plant family. Use floating row covers to prevent damage to young foliage.
Leafroller: Caterpillars or pupae are found on the inside a folded leaf tied with silk. These feed on leaves and fruit surfaces. They overwinter as pupae or eggs, depending on the species, and emerge in the spring. Burpee Recommends: Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for insecticide recommendations.
Spider Mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for miticide recommendations.
Whitefly: These are small white flying insects that often rise up in a cloud when plants are disturbed or brushed against. Burpee Recommends: They are difficult to control without chemicals. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pesticide recommendations.
Are the flowers of perilla edible? Yes, they are edible. You can use them as a garnish in soups.
Does perilla self-sow in the garden? Yes, it is not uncommon for perilla to self-sow in the garden if the flowers are allowed to go to seed.
Can I grow perilla in containers? This a large plant and does best in the garden. If you do want to try it, use a large container and pinch the plants to make them bushier when they are young.